Statement of Audubon President and CEO John Flicker following the election of President-elect Obama and the new Congress.
“Voters in this historic election cast their ballots not only for change, but for a new era of hope for our environment, and the people, birds, and other wildlife that depend on it. Washington has been ignoring critical environmental issues for too long. President-elect Barack Obama and a more environmentally aware Congress offer the promise of leadership and fundamental change that could usher in new protections for America’s great natural heritage, and a new lease on life for species in decline.
“Despite real reason for optimism, we cannot take conservation gains for granted. Audubon is committed to helping the new Administration and Congress to live up to their great promise; and to make conservation, clean energy and green jobs part of America’s path to a brighter tomorrow.
“Through our local Chapters, state offices and national grass roots efforts, Audubon will join with others in the environmental community to ensure that our newly elected leaders lead the way on issues vital to our environment, our economy and diversity of life on Earth.”
Issues demanding prompt attention include:
- President-elect Obama should start by appointing to key environmental positions within his Administration qualified leaders who will defend our clean air and water, protect habitat and endangered species, aggressively address global warming, and steward our great natural heritage for future generations.
- The Department of the Interior should systematically review and reverse decisions made by the past Administration under the Endangered Species Act that were influenced by political considerations and not based on sound science.
- President-elect Obama should send a clear signal to everyone in his administration to restore and respect scientific integrity in all environmental decisions.
Global Warming and Renewable Energy:
- President-elect Obama has said that: “We cannot afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake.” He’s right. We welcome the opportunity to help him deliver his promised $150 billion plan for clean energy technologies that would protect our environment and stimulate the economy, creating up 5 million new green jobs.
- The Congress should pass legislation providing significant incentives for development of renewable energy such as a strong Renewables Portfolio Standard and a long-term extension of the Production Tax Credit, and pass significant legislation to address global warming with a comprehensive cap-and-trade program.
- The new Administration and Congress must lead a transformation in American energy production and use through investments in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies. This can minimize the fluctuation of gas prices while protecting our beaches, coastal ecosystems and the Alaskan landscape from the threats of oil and gas drilling.
Endangered Species Conservation:
- We’ll work with the Administration to secure reversal of the Bush administration’s weakening of the Endangered Species Act, such as the controversial decision to allow agencies to self-consult regarding the impacts of federally-approved projects on endangered species.
- Congress should pass new tax incentives to encourage private landowners to work toward recovery of endangered species.
Bird and Habitat Conservation:
- The Administration and the Congress should reinvest in the National Wildlife Refuge System and address the unacceptable $3.5 billion maintenance backlog crippling this critical tool for conservation.
- The Congress should pass legislation to conserve neotropical migratory birds and address the steep declines in America’s common birds that are disappearing from parks, farms, and backyards across the country.
- The Administration and the Congress should fund significant new restoration projects to improve the status of America’s great natural ecosystems: The Mississippi River, the Everglades, Long Island Sound, and the Great Lakes.
Your support, along with Audubon’s unique chapter, state, and national presence, will enable us to seize this rare opportunity for real conservation progress in the weeks and months ahead. Please continue your grassroots advocacy to hold our leaders accountable to their conservation promises. And consider making a special gift to support this vital work. If you’re not already a full-fledged Audubon member, sign up while you’re there. Benefits such as our acclaimed Audubon magazine and participation in local Chapters and Center events will expand you awareness of conservation issues and offer new opportunities to make a difference.
Though economic times are hard, there’s is no time like the present to shape the future of our world for birds, other wildlife, and for people too.